Monday, October 31, 2016

Hiking in Idyllwild California and Enjoying the Spa Life…

We have certainly been taking advantage of this very nice Golden Palm Village RV resort in Hemet, California. Most afternoons have been spent playing pickleball and soaking in the hot tub afterward. In the mornings we stroll the large park and have taken advantage of the very exquisite fitness faculty. This has almost been like being on a min-vacation as the facilities  are definitely of that caliber.
However, we still needed a good hike and couldn’t find much nearby. We decided to take a 40 minute drive up to Idyllwild California in the San Bernardino National Forest. There are some excellent trails in the area many of which cover a lot of elevation. Since we were getting a late start we opted to hike the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail. This hike is rated as easy and scenic and is a 2.6 mile hike and 2.6 mile hike out.
The drive up to the trailhead was an experience in itself as the winding road to the hike climbs out of the desert to the forested mountains above. With all the twists and turns it took us longer to make it to the trailhead than expected. Once we arrived at the parking area for the trailhead at Humber Park we had climbed to an elevation of 6100 ft.
The trail description mentioned we would cross several streams and we could tell where they were, but they were all were dry at this time of year. The trail began by descending about 600 feet. and although the trail is rated easy some seniors might finds parts of it challenging. The coolest thing about this hike was the diversity of tree species we saw along the way. Some of my favorites were the Madrone trees with their shiny smooth red bark and the Coulter Pine known for its huge pine cones. These cones are so large they can become up to 11 pounds and are often referred to as widow makers.
We were running out of time before the end of the trail so we turned back a bit early but thoroughly enjoyed the hike in the forest. It is always nice to see green woodlands after spending time in the brown deserts. On the way back we drove around the quaint town of Idyllwild and then headed back home.
After a nice dinner made on the grill we had another soak in one of the three hot tubs in the pool complex where we reflected on the fun we have had on our psuedo vacation in Hemet….
NOTE: We are in Temecula California until the 1st of November staying at the Pechanga Casino RV Resort. We will be moving to Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego for the month of November.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Celebrating Sharon’s Birthday in Hemet California…


We sure enjoyed our week stay in Pahrump, NV and could have spend some time there  but once again it was time to hit the road. We talked about where to go next and finally decided but it would involve a longer drive than normal. We travelled about 250 miles south and west into California. Why so far? Well it was because we really wanted to get past all the crazy Los Angeles traffic and congestion.


We made our way through the maze of roads until we finally pulled into  Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, California which was a new place for us! After setting up we checked out this fabulous resort and it is one of the nicest we have ever stayed in for sure. We booked a week at their special rate of $149.00 per week and what a bargain this turned out to be. It offers full hook-ups, free WIFI and cable along with top notch facilities including 3 separate pools and 3 hot tubs!!! There is shuffleboard, volleyball, pickleball, a spacious fitness room, a billiard room and lots of activities on the calendar.

We figure to spend a lot of time just relaxing at the resort but with Sharon’s birthday we had to come up with something fun to do.  I plotted out a route that would take us to three different casinos, two of which had rave reviews and planned a visit to the highest rated Greater LA Inland brewery called Hanger 24 Brewing. Since this was a little over a hundred mile loop it will also give us the opportunity to explore some of the surrounding area.


First up was the Morongo Casino Resort Spa and what a fancy Indian casino it was. We went inside and signed up for their players club and got $5.00 each in free play. We really didn’t find the type of video poker machines we wanted to play but still left the casino with $10.00 thanks to Sharon hitting a 4-of-a-kind on her machine .

Next up was the San Manuel Indian Casino and man we couldn’t believe how big this one was and how very crowded it was on a weekday before 5:000 pm. We signed up for their player’s club card and we awarded $20.00 each in free play (the most we have ever  gotten in free play). Even better, since it was Sharon’s birthday she was given another $25.00 in freeplay as well as a $10 food voucher.


We had a blast with the $65.00 in free play and Sharon hit another 4-of-a-kind  while we were there! By the time we finished playing with their money we cashed out a cool $64.25! Before we left we checked out the food vendors to see what we could get with her birthday voucher. The best treat we found was a couple of almond cream cannoli's which would be a perfect substitute for a birthday cake! They were very tasty and I almost forgot to take a picture before we gobbled them up!


Our next stop was for a cold craft beer at the Hanger 24 Brewery where we each ordered a Wet Hop IPA which was quite tasty. We engaged in conversation with a young couple from the area and had a few laughs before hitting the road back home. With one last stop at the Soboba Casino near Hemet we scored another $10.00 after using their free play,

Once back at the RV park we ended what was a great birthday full of entertainment with a soak in one of the park’s hot tubs. We were the only ones there and it was a perfect way to end another day on our road of retirement….

NOTE: We will be in Hemet California until the 30th and then will move to Temecula California for a few days.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Scenic Loop Drive and Hike at China Date Ranch….


Before leaving Pahrump Nevada we decided to take a scenic drive to see a few sights in the area and hopefully do a little hiking along the way. The total distance of the loop I planned was about 105 miles so we got an early start and hit the road…


The drive west on the Bob Ruud Memorial Highway once again took us past the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The drive through the basin and desert ranges was pleasant as the vegetation (typical of high deserts) ranged from fairly abundant to extremely sparse as we near the boundary of Death Valley National Park in California.


Once we made it to Death Valley Junction in California we took 127 south. We made an interesting stop at the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel  which was right smack dab in the middle of nowhere! A New York City girl moved to Death Valley Junction in 1967 and converted an old social hall into her own theater. This place was rocking for some time but crowds have steadily diminished even though there are still weekly shows occurring.


While we did walk around the hotel and the opera house we didn’t take the tour inside the opera house. After reading more about her story I am thinking maybe we should have. Oh well, there is always next time, right? Anyhow we continued our loop drive along the border of Death Valley until we reached the town of Shoshone California.


We stopped in Shoshone to check out the Shosone museum near the Crowbar Café. The museum is free (donations accepted) and is small but has some very interesting exhibits. Outside of the museum is an old car near some antique gas pumps and other interesting artifacts of antiquity. There are also a series of loop hikes behind the museum.


One is marked by blue poles is is less than a mile loop hike. It began right behind the museum and took us through what looked to have been a dump area for locals as there were shards of glass and pieces of metal strewn about. Then we entered a carved path of sagebrush and walked around through the Amargosa river bottom (it was mostly dry). There were interesting birds about but the hike is not one I would highly recommend even though it was nice to stretch our legs.


Leaving Shosone we drove though Tecopa California and even though we noticed several RV parks there was absolutely no Verizon cell or WIFI signal. We drove a bit out of town looking for the China Ranch Date Farm. This turned out to be the highlight of the trip. The ranch is a real oasis in the desert with palm trees and lush vegetation as there are active springs in the area.


Even better is there were some fantastic hiking trails which made us wish we hadn't wasted our time hiking in Shoshone. We took a short hike down to the spring and alongside a skinny trail along a mountainside trying to get to a canyon. The ground was very loose and with a precipitous drop of 20 or more feet so we elected to turn back. There were calcite crystals everywhere along this trail.


We stopped and chatted with a couple of hikers and one of them taught math at Texas A&M University when I was there… small world! We finished the hike and returned home making note of what cool hiking opportunities exist at China Date Ranch.This was a road treat we hope to spend more time exploring once we return to this area. Our stay in Pahrump was enjoyable but it is time to move southward to our reserved time in San Diego.


NOTE: We are now in Hemet California until the 30th and then will move to Temecula California for a few days.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Red Rocks and a visit to a Nevada Winery…


Knowing we weren't far from Las Vegas almost enticed us to go there for a visit but we really weren't in the mood for the throngs of people we would undoubtedly encounter. The next best day trip would be a hike in the Red Rocks area just west of Vegas.

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The last time we visited Las Vegas and the Red Rocks area we drove the loop and did a lot of small hikes along the way. We vowed if we ever came back we would need to do something longer so when we approached the entrance to Red Rocks we noticed a few cars alongside the road and pulled over to see what hike they were doing. This is how we found the First Creek Canyon hike.


This 1.5 mile hike in and 1.5 mile hike out was just what we were looking for. We put our boots on along with our sun protection and started the slow but gently climbing trail toward the canyon.There were a few Joshua Trees along with vegetation typical of both the Great Basin and Mojave deserts. We also noticed a short side trail which led to a piece of “hiker art”,  a spiral made out of rocks. Of course we had to contribute a few small rocks to the art…


As we made our way closer to the canyon the vegetation got thicker and some of the trees were changing colors to the fall yellow hues. This hike climbs at the end through some thick scrub with a bit of rock hopping but the view into the foreboding canyon was worth the hike. We did see a few other people on the trail but not too many to ruin the solitude we sought. The return hike offered different views of the layered colored rocks the Red Rock area is known for.


Once we finished there was still time to drive the loop through the park so we did. Wow was this park crowded even on a weekday. As such we were so glad we decided to hike the canyon before entering the park instead of choosing to hike within the park. As we headed home we were happy with the drive and the hike.


Back in Pahrump we decided to visit the Pahrump Valley Winery for our happy hour. We arrived just before their last tour and were given an interesting tour of this small winery. It is one of only a few wineries in Nevada but they have won many awards. They gave a complimentary tasting of seven wines (our choice) after the tour and we chose a nice Syrah to take home with us for a another day.


Yet another great day on the road of retirement…

NOTE: We are now in Hemet California until the 30th…